Jun 8, 2015
Hello Everyone! So I just took my OAT test today and thought I should share my experience and what to expect since I have been reading around as well before my exam.


So I am originally a pre-med student and I had spent a few months studying for the MCAT exam (both the 2014 and new 2015 versions). But I studied with a friend who was studying with the OAT and the material we both had gone over was fairly similar. The MCAT just tests you more on applying your knowledge to the passages they give you throughout the exam – so a ton of critical thinking and conceptual application.

Starting with the MCAT studying, I had purchased a subscription to Chad’s videos which helped a TON and I feel as if I retained and understood the information a lot better than I ever have in my undergraduate years with professors. My friend subscribed to his OAT version of the videos and they’re very similar (and identical videos/plan for physics). The only thing extra I had to learn was taxonomy, evolution, and ecology information which the MCAT does not include. I also prepared for the MCAT by using The Princeton Review Online course which consists of practice passages and also practice questions on each chapter of the book. The stand-alone questions helped me a lot and were relevant to the way OAT formats their question so I think it helped me a lot. I know Princeton has an OAT version (Cracking the OAT) but I did not purchase that course and I am not sure what study materials they offer in their online course but I would suspect it is similar. But they do offer some free question drills and outlines online and 2 practice tests (in PDFs) if you sign up at theprincetonreview.com/cracking and put in the ISBN number.

Since the material for the MCAT was similar to the OAT, I didn’t need to subscribe to Chad’s OAT videos at all. I was able to get a copy of the Kaplan OAT book and went over the topics I needed for biology and used the online resources to quiz myself and also take practice tests. They have workshop PowerPoints and lectures that I did not use only because of my prior MCAT study prep so I don’t have much comment on it. I looked at the taxonomy workshop and it has different some more vague additional information than their book.

Now specifically for the OAT prep: I just studied all the information and outlines I got from Chad’s videos and took a TON of quizzes and practice tests provided by the Kaplan OAT online resource website. They essentially offer 5 full (and timed) practice exams which helped a lot with practicing on the timing. I would definitely recommend Kaplan OAT because I feel that it helped me over-prepare for the real OAT. Although Kaplan does a good job covering a majority of the information, OAT still tests you on information that isn’t stated in the book but stems from the topics. So definitely do a little outside learning if possible, particularly the Biology section. Kaplan barely covers plants and photosynthesis so getting basic knowledge on their reproduction and cellular respiration would help you a lot. Another good thing to add to your studies is expand your knowledge on taxonomy since I’ve noticed one or two questions showing up on all the practice exams and on the real OAT. The Kaplan barely does justice and I had to learn additional information from going over practice test questions.

Other than that, definitely keep practicing! Utilize all the practice questions that Chad’s videos, Kaplan, and Cracking the OAT has to offer. Practice will help improve your scores, especially in OChem. I didn’t get enough practice in time before the real exam and I did poorly since there is a lot more to know in OChem and there are so many topics and reactions to test you on that 30 questions simply doesn’t cover enough.

Make sure to take breaks when you need it and don’t lock yourself away studying 24/7. Your brain needs rest to process the information you learned and to retain it. Also, it’ll help you de-stress. High stress levels can actually impact your learning experience and we definitely do not want that! So relax when you need it! It can only help you, not hurt you! =)

Day of the OAT:

I got to my testing center 30 minutes earlier before my exam time to check-in. Make sure you bring 2 forms of identification – one being a government-issued ID (ex: driver’s license or passport) and another that has your signature on it (like a credit card).

The center gives you a locker to lock up all your things and this locker cannot be accessed until the end of your exam but the only thing you can bring in is ear plugs if you need to use them or the center usually provides headphones. Dress comfortably considering it is a long exam and bring a light jacket incase the center is cold. You have to keep it on the whole time or come out of the testing room to drop off your jacket during your break. You aren’t allowed to take it off and put it on the chair or anything (which is kind of weird).

You will be given scratch “paper” and two writing tools. My center provided me two “note boards” which is just yellow laminated 8x12 paper and already had titles and statements at the top of the paper on both sides (which takes up space!). One side also includes a grid that also takes up the entire space of the paper and made up of super tiny squares! It was a waste of space for me because I don’t like to write so TINY when I am doing calculations. Another downside to this note board is that we are only allowed to have a max of two boards checked out. Considering this test not only tests you on your knowledge, but the speed of applying your knowledge, this can definitely hinder your test experience. Make sure to get 2 new fresh boards on your break since most calculations are from the physics and QR section. And when you need a new board in the later part of the exam, make sure you raise your hand to signal them to get you a new one while you work! I believe this depends on the location because I heard that in one state, someone got unlimited blank paper, another a paper booklet with sufficient amount of paper, and another state passed out unlimited stacks of these laminated note boards. I was lucky that my exam didn’t have that many calculations to write down and I managed to write tiny, so I didn’t experience this headache.

There will be a 15 minute tutorial in the beginning which might be a good time to write down any chemistry equations or reactions that you’d want to note down or any physics equations for later (but don’t forget you are going to need to do a note board swap for new ones!). There is also a 15 minute break after the Natural Sciences and Reading section. Take this break to make sure you use the restroom, eat a quick snack to energize, get new note boards, or write down physics equations at this time. Or just relax!

The Natural Sciences (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry) is 90 minutes long for 100 questions. I got tested on a variety of material and my exam seemed to consist of more conceptual questions rather than calculation equations. I didn’t have that many reaction equations in the organic chemistry as the Kaplan tests had prepped me on which probably explains why I scored lower. I was focused on memorizing reaction mechanisms in my studies that I didn’t take the time to fully understand why. In the biology section, there were quite a few questions outside the information of the Kaplan book so again, I recommend expanding your biology studies!

I did okay on the Reading Comprehension but definitely keep track of time! You have 60 minutes to answer 50 questions on 3 passages. I recommend having a max of 20 minutes for each passage and its questions. From the trends I have seen on all the practice exams, there is always at least one passage that is more descriptive and much more difficult than the other two passages. I recommend skipping this passage and saving it for last. The key is to get as many questions right so knocking out all the easy questions and passages first, you would most likely finish with more than 20 minutes for the more difficult passage. My passage questions were more deductive and inductive reasoning types. Kaplan practice exams predominantly tests you on your ability to find details in the passage which makes it seem a little easier than it is. The Cracking the Oat practice tests consists more of deductive/inductive type questions than details. My method that I use is to read questions and search for the answers and as I skim for answers over and over, I retain what I skimmed and can easily reference back. But remember, just because this works for me, it doesn’t mean it would work for you. Everyone has their own way to tackle the reading section so just practice and find your comfort! =)

The Physics question is 50 minutes long for 40 questions. The physics section was pretty simple in my opinion and didn’t have complicated calculations that needed a calculator. The Kaplan resources and Chad’s video helped me tremendously on physics and Kaplan would over-prepare you for the questions so it is great practice!

Lastly, the Quantitative Reasoning section is 45 minutes for 40 questions. This is really a hit or miss. I am usually really good at math and I love it! But I wasn’t as confident on the real OAT and got tested on topics I wasn’t very familiar with but still managed to do decent!

My Scores:

Here are my test scores from the Kaplan practice tests (K), Cracking the OAT (C), the ADA, and the real OAT exam.

BIO 390/320/340/350/360/360/370/380/390
GCHEM 320/350/320/350/340/340/350/360/360
OCHEM 320/320/ 350/360/350/360/350/370/330
PHYSICS 340/320/310/350/300/360/320/360/390
READ 340/380/290/340/330/350/390/360/340
QR 400/350/390/380/340/380/390/390/350

AA: 350/340/340/360/340/360/360/370/360
TS: 340/330/330/350/340/370/350/370/370

The Kaplan practice tests are timed to give you a real feel of time and experience as you would get at the center. However, on the real exam, the fonts are much larger than the Kaplan version and in the reading section, you have a little larger box (in height) for the passage. You can also highlight text and strike out answer choices throughout the entire exam. Unfortunately, in the reading section, when you go to the next question, the passage auto-scrolls back to the top. Also, the paragraphs are numbered! Yay!

The Cracking the OAT and ADA exams are PDFs and I practiced by printing them out and timing myself. I would say the real exam is more similar to the Cracking the OAT version and wording is similar to ADA exam. The Kaplan is great practice for preparation. I did the Kaplan first and scored higher scores on the Cracking the OAT and ADA afterwards.

Before I got my scores on the real OAT, I thought I wasn’t going to do great. I didn’t feel very confident and my nerves caught up with me so I couldn’t finish the exam in time (I still bubbled in answers on questions I couldn’t really “answer”) like I have during practice. So make sure to practice on your timing! It’s most important – well second to knowing your material! Lol! But I hope my experience and advice would help you. If not then I hope you find a way that suits you personally and good luck to you all!

Feel free to ask any questions!
Apr 8, 2013
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Excellent overview
I am taking mine friday, how much plants did you see in the biology section bc Kaplan does not cover it at all really
Jun 8, 2015
Excellent overview
I am taking mine friday, how much plants did you see in the biology section bc Kaplan does not cover it at all really
Out of all the practice tests I have taken, there's at least 1-2 questions and on my real OAT I only came across 2 questions about the plant's "organs" which was covered in the book and the other question was not (but I can't recall specifically what the question is about).

Good luck on your exam Friday!